After deploying two lunar probes this summer to explore the possibility of life on Mars, scientists at NASA and around the world contend it won’t be long before man takes his first steps on the Red Planet. Developed by researchers, this award-winning, futuristic web site provides a sneak peek at the types of technology likely to sustain early colonization. Students can take a self-guided, interactive tour of the mock habitat and even cruise across the rocky, red-dust landscape in a robotic rover. Along the way, they’ll get a glimpse of how early settlers and scientists might live on Mars by visiting a lab, an infirmary, sleeping quarters, and a mess hall. As they explore, visitors are given several opportunities to learn about the science and technology underlying the design of the mock habitat, as well as the hostile physical environment of the planet itself. In the next phase of the project, students will be able to go on virtual missions in the rover to actual Mars locations–and interactive animations will be implemented to demonstrate science, technology, and human-factors issues.

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